Revitalizing the mining industry

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Revitalizing the mining industry
STAR columnist Andrew Masigan, DENR Undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science Carlos Primo David, the author (chairman, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines), Philippine Mining and Exploration Association president Joey Nelson Ayson, Philippine Nickel Industry Association president Atty. Dante Bravo.

We have grown weary of imagining. It is time to do away with the talking. Our country will tremendously benefit from a progressive and responsible minerals development industry. If we want to see a fully enabled Philippine mining sector that is an active participant in the global shift to renewable energy technologies in response to climate change, we must stop imagining. We have to act now.”

And, with that, I ended my opening remarks as chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) at the recent mining policy summit dubbed “Revitalizing the Philippine Mining Industry: A Pillar for Inclusive and Resilient Economic Growth” held at the Legaspi Ballroom of the Makati Diamond Residences and live streamed via Zoom.

This hybrid event was organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute (Stratbase ADRI) in partnership with organizations like the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA), and the Philippine Mining and Exploration Association (PMEA), to name a few.

The Mining Summit brought together industry experts and stakeholders to work closely with government on actionable policy reforms that will address regulatory roadblocks in transforming the Philippines into an important player in the green global economy.

Stratbase ADRI president Prof. Victor Andres Manhit.

The global economy’s move towards a more sustainable and greener environment will significantly increase the demand for mineral resources. The Philippine mining industry in this regard is greatly encouraged by the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to renew interest in optimizing the potential of the country’s mineral resources.

As I mentioned in my speech, serious adversities have hounded our country’s mining industry, and we have gone through long periods of bust cycles and of policy instability. Much of the latter has to do with mining’s reputation as “environmentally destructive” — a reputation that still persists, largely undeserved, I must say — and we in the industry have our work cut out for us to change people’s perceptions.

After all, mining is temporary land use, and we have the wherewithal to alleviate the effects of our activities on the environment and to fully rehabilitate mine sites for further productive uses.

Thankfully, we have the support of our global friends who wish to build strategic partnerships for critical mineral value chains, with the likes of Australia, as manifested by Ambassador H.K. Yu; Canada, through Ambassador David Hartman; the European Union, through Ambassador Luc Veron; and Japan, through Ambassador Endo Kazuya.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

We had confirmation from national government agencies of the role of strategic investments in mining to sustain economic growth in the country, as upheld by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The conference also discussed how to strategically position the industry in the global minerals market with inputs from Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella, COMP executive director Ron Recidoro, S&P Global Market Intelligence executive director Mohsen Bonakdarpour, and USAID mission director Ryan Washburn.

Secretary Frederick Go, the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs, mentioned that mining holds the greater potential to be the key driver of the economy, as he gave five steps on why to invest in mining in the Philippines.

I discussed optimizing Philippine mining industry opportunities and mineral economic value with DENR Undersecretary CP David, PNIA president Dante Bravo, and PMEA president Joey Ayson. Addressing Philippine mineral agenda bottlenecks was then tackled by Secretary Ernesto Perez of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), OceanaGold Philippines president Joan Adaci-Cattiling, topnotch mining lawyer Roderick Salazar III, mining engineer Michael Cabalda, and NCIP chairperson Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las (via video recording).

The author with Secretary Loyzaga.

The last session of the event focused on ensuring sustainable mining practices by leveraging ESG for socioeconomic, environmental, and disaster risk reduction programs with Quirino governor Dakila Cua, PMSEA president Louie Sarmiento, DENR Undersecretary Marilou Erni, Planet Labs country manager Shih Shen Wong, and PWC Philippines partner Pocholo Domondon.

Conference sessions were ably moderated by lawyers Dennis Quintero, Patricia Bunye, Karen Jimeno, and columnist Andrew Masigan.

The milestone event was capped by a ceremonial signing of a declaration of partnerships and policy reform agreements.

As I have mentioned time and again, this can be the golden age of mining. We have an administration that recognizes mining as an indispensable industry as we transition away from fossil fuels in our battle against climate change. We have a Congress that embraces the same view.

We in the industry express our profound gratitude to the indefatigable DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga for this timely call to action towards policy reform in the mining industry, and Stratbase ADRI president Prof. Victor Andres Manhit for spearheading this event with the DENR.

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